Police Use Water Cannons, Rubber Bullets, & Tear Gas On Protesters

Protesters in Bangkok July 2021

Yesterday, Police used water cannon, rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse protesters demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and that the government be held accountable for its mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The protest was halted at about 6.30pm yesterday.

Demonstrators clashed with police after some tried to dismantle barbed wire and metal barricades set up along Ratchadamoneon Nok Avenue in a bid to prevent them from marching to Government House.

A number of people were injured, and an area near Wat Ratchanatda, near the Democracy Monument, was set up for health volunteers to help protesters injured during the police operation.

“Murderous government!” Panusaya “Rung” Sithijirawattanakul, a protest leader, tweeted after police used force to disperse protesters.

Thatchapong Kaedam, a leader of the Free Youth group, encouraged people to stop the protest.

“We never thought that our peaceful protest would be severely attacked,” he said.

Earlier, cars and motorcycles joined a throng of demonstrators walking towards Government House.

The protesters defied a ban on public gatherings set in place over increased COVID-19 infections by assembling at Ratchadamnoen Avenue, where thousands attended a similar rally a year ago.

Recently, they began criticising the government’s management of the pandemic.

“The government has been poor at managing the situation and if we don’t do anything, there will be no change,” Kanyaporn Veeratat, 34, a protester, told Reuters.

More than 2,000 police were deployed to counter the rally.

Pol Col Kissana Phathanacharoen, deputy spokesman for the Royal Thai Police, said the use of water cannon and rubber bullets was made in accordance with the law.

On Friday, a blanket announcement banning such a gathering was published in the Royal Gazette.